On June 20, the Santa Barbara Independent reported that the Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Market Association is considering a temporary fee hike for vendors in order to pay lawyer’s fees resulting from a complaint filed by two members and one ex-member. The antitrust lawsuit brought by Jeff and Roxanne Hendrickson of Santa Rita Flower Farm and then joined by the owners of Wellington Farm and Dey Dey’s Best Beef Ever alleges breach of contract, price-fixing and restraints of trade. They also claim that the Farmers Market violated California’s Cartwright Act, a state antitrust law prohibiting anti-competitive activity that mirrors federal antitrust laws like the Sherman Antitrust Act and the Clayton Antitrust Act.
According to the Independent, members currently pay 5 percent of their gross sales for operating costs and the market grossed about $10 million last year. The plaintiffs allege that “the market favors larger out-of-town sellers, does not keep transparent waiting lists, and does not follow its own bylaws.” An amended complaint stated that the Farmers Market so dominates the “direct-to-retail” agricultural market in Santa Barbara County that no other option could provide the plaintiffs “fair and equal access.” However, the Independent reported that the Farmers Market attorney argued that the plaintiffs not only have several other venues for the sale of their products, but they also take advantage of them. Additionally, the lawyer claimed that the Cartwright Act is designed to protect consumers, not sellers.
Los Angeles breach of contract attorney Robert G. Klein has more than 25 years of experience representing individual clients and companies of all sizes in complex business agreements, and you can learn more about contract disputes by visiting our website. Contact our firm today at (323) 653-3900 or enter your information in the form on this page to let our Los Angeles breach of contract lawyer review your case.
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